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Only in Los Angeles might a young woman arrive to study with a kundalini yoga teacher, and end up becoming Michael Jackson’s personal chef. That’s the story of Akasha Richmond, who while gleaning the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, also cooked at the temple’s on-site vegetarian restaurant. It was there that she met The King of Pop, and later too cooked for Barbra Streisand, Billy Bob Thornton, and Pierce Brosnan. In 2008, a friend suggested she open her own restaurant “just for fun.” They went out looking and found the building where AKASHA now stands, originally built as the hospital for Culver City in 1934. Detecting its friendly feng shui, Richmond decided she would dedicate her food to the customer in the neighborhood. “I’m not spoon-dragging, I’m not putting flowers on a plate,” she says, adding that her top sellers are the turkey burger, onion rings and chicken wings. “I’m really proud of those wings,” she says, and waxes about the overnight tandoori-like marinade with 20 different spices, and how she smokes the wings, fries them to order, then tops them with more spices and serves them with two chutneys. Next door to AKASHA is AR Cucina, also run by Richmond, and inspired by her travels throughout Italy, where she has eaten at the famous Osteria Francescana—widely considered the world’s best restaurant—but where she preferred the tiny, four-table Hosteria Gjusti in Modena. “We went there for lunch, and it was the mom and maybe one other person in the kitchen, and the daughter and the son on the floor,” she remembers. A similar model of hospitality and warmth is exactly what her restaurants have become known for—and we can all be glad she was a better student of food than yoga.
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9543 Culver Boulevard, Culver City CA 90232
Chef Akasha Richmond decided she would dedicate her food to the customer in the neighborhood. “I’m not spoon-dragging, I’m not putting flowers on a plate,” she says.